Rosa canina (commonly known as the dog rose) is a variable climbing wild rose species native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia.

It is a deciduous shrub normally ranging in height from 1–۵ m, though sometimes it can scramble higher into the crowns of taller trees. Its stems are covered with small, sharp, hooked prickles, which aid it in climbing. The leaves are pinnate, with 5-7 leaflets. The flowers are usually pale pink, but can vary between a deep pink and white. They are 4–۶ cm diameter with five petals, and mature into an oval

A botanical illustration showing the various stages of growth by Otto Wilhelm Thomé

The plant is high in certain antioxidants. The fruit is noted for its high vitamin C level and is used to make syrup, tea and marmalade. It has been grown or encouraged in the wild for the production of vitamin C, from its fruit (often as rose-hip syrup), especially during conditions of scarcity or during wartime. The species has also been introduced to other temperate latitudes. During World War II in the United States Rosa canina was planted in victory gardens, and can still be found growing throughout the United States, including roadsides, and in wet, sandy areas up and down coastlines. In Bulgaria, where it grows in abundance, the hips are used to make a sweet wine, as well as tea. In the traditional Austrian medicine Rosa canina fruits have been used internally as tea for treatment of viral infections and disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract.[۱]

Forms of this plant are sometimes used as stocks for the grafting or budding of cultivated varieties. The wild plant is planted as a nurse or cover crop, or stabilising plant in land reclamation and specialised landscaping schemes.

Numerous cultivars have been named, though few are common in cultivation. The cultivar Rosa canina ‘Assisiensis’ is the only dog rose without prickles. The hips are used as a flavouring in Cockta, a soft drink made in Slovenia.

The dog roses, the Canina section of the genus Rosa (۲۰-۳۰ species and subspecies, which occur mostly in Northern and Central Europe), have an unusual kind of meiosis that is sometimes called “permanent odd polyploidy” although it can occur with even polyploidy (e.g. in tetraploids or hexaploids). Regardless of ploidy level, only seven bivalents are formed leaving the other chromosomes as univalents. Univalents are included in egg cells, but not in pollen.[۲][۳] Dogroses are most commonly pentaploid, i.e. five times the base number of seven chromosomes for the genus Rosa, but may be tetraploid or hexaploid as well.

Names and etymology[edit]

The botanical name is derived from the common names ‘dog rose’ or similar in several European languages, including classical Latin and ancient (Hellenistic period) Greek.

It is sometimes considered that the word ‘dog’ has a disparaging meaning in this context, indicating ‘worthless’ (by comparison with cultivated garden roses) (Vedel & Lange 1960). However it also known that it was used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to treat the bite of rabid dogs, hence the name “dog rose” may result from this[۴] (though it seems just as plausible that the name gave rise to the treatment).

Other old folk names include dogberry and witches’ briar.[citation

 ۱.۵–۲ cm red-orange fruit, or hip.


The theoretical, but especially the practical values of identifying the biochemical compounds from the Rosa canina L. fruits are of present interest, this aspect being illustrated by the numerous researches. It was reported that the Rosa canina L. fruit, with its high ascorbic acid, phenolics and flavonoids contents, have antioxidant, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic effects.

This study was performed on order to evaluate the amount of the main phytochemicals (vitamin C, total polyphenols, and total flavonoids) content and their antioxidant activity.


The results obtained revealed that the average amounts of vitamin C within the studied genotypes were: 360.22 mg/100 g frozen pulp (var. transitoria f. ramosissima, altitude 1250 m) and 112.20 mg/100 g frozen pulp (var. assiensis, altitude 440 m), giving a good correlation between the vitamin C content of the rosehip and the altitude. The total polyphenols content varied from 575 mg/100 g frozen pulp (var. transitoria f. ramosissima) to 326 mg/100 g frozen pulp (var. lutetiana f. fallens). The total flavonoids content showed the highest value for var. assiensis variant 163.3 mg/100 g frozen pulp and the lowest value attributed to var. transitoria f. montivaga ۱۰۱.۳ mg/100 g frozen pulp. The antioxidant activity of eight rose hip extracts from wild Transylvania populations was investigated through DPPH method. The antioxidant activity revealed a good correlation only with vitamin C content and total polyphenols.


Eight Rose hip fruit species were compared taking into consideration the ascorbic acid, total polyphenols, total flavonoids contents and their antioxidant activity. Based on these results, two of the rosehip genotypes that were analysed could be of perspective for these species’ amelioration, due to their content of phytochemicals mentioned above. These varieties are var. transitoria f. ramosissima (Bistrita-Nasaud, Agiesel) and var. transitoria f. montivaga (Bistrita-Nasaud, Salva) which can be used as a potential source of natural antioxidants.

Keywords: Rosehip fruits, Ascorbic acid, Polyphenols, Flavonoids, Antioxidant activity, Natural antioxidants

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The genus Rosa contains over 100 species that are widely distributed mostly in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America [۱]. Rosa canina L. (dog rose) is an erect shrub of up to 3.5 meters height, sometimes climbing; its branches are often curved or arched. Petals are white to pale pink, rarely deep pink and fruit ripens late [۲]. Information about the biology and biochemistry of Rosa canina L. has allowed a good documentation by presenting it in several ways (botanical, agrotechnical, chemical composition and uses).

The Rosa canina L. fruits have constituted an important source of food and medicine for many cultures. Common food preparations using rose hips include juice, wine, tea, jelly, jam, as well as mixed with dried salmon eggs [۳].

The dog rose hips (Cynosbati fructus) comprise several biologically active compounds, such as: sugars, organic acids, pectins, flavonoids, tannins, carotenoids, fatty acids, vitamins (particularly vitamin C and also vitamins B1, B2, K, PP, E), macro- and microelements etc. [۴,۵]. The nutrients and technological properties were determined in Rosa canina L. fruits (rosehips) in order to investigate potential uses [۴]. In the scientific literature, the vitamin C content in rose hips is reported to far exceed the one found in citrus fruits [۴,۶]. Rose hips are known to have the highest vitamin C content (30–۱۳۰۰ mg/100 g) among fruits and vegetables [۷]. In addition, rose hips contain other vitamins and minerals, carotenoids, tocopherols, flavonoids, fruit acids, tannins, pectin, sugars, organic acids, amino acids and essential oils [۸,۹]. Indigenous traditional knowledge and western science have revealed its potential for significant nutritional and therapeutic benefits among natural antioxidants [۱۰].

Rosa canina L. is well-known for its high phenolic contents. These compounds are known to have antioxidant, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic effects. Polyphenol compounds are potential antioxidant substances and protective agents against the development of human disease [۱۱,۱۲].

Recent studies revealed that the Rosa canina L. extracts were effective on growth inhibition and biofilm formation in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aures (MRSA) [۱۳,۱۴].

Its seeds are rich in oil and mineral substances. The fatty acids from the dog rose oil are mainly: the linoleic, oleic, linolenic, palmitic, stearic and arachidonic acid [۱۵].

Fruits (hips) have long been used in the traditional prevention and therapy of common cold and other infections, as a diuretic agent and for the treatment of various inflammatory diseases. So far, none of these indications of clinical effectiveness have been proved except for osteoarthritis [۱۶۱۸]. Citing recent results of other authors’ research, Kiliçgun and Dehen [۱۹] stated that the hips display an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-mutagen effect. Indigenous traditional knowledge and western science have revealed the potential of nutritional and therapeutic benefits among natural antioxidants [۱۰]. The substances within the dog rose fruit (hips) are endowed with vitaminisant, astringent, colagogue, choleretic, diuretic, antidiarrhoea, antioxidant properties, etc. [۲۰]. Moreover, the research done by Orhan et al. [۵], showed that the dog rose hips also have antidiabetic properties (probably due to their monosaccharids, oligosaccharids and pectins content).


The results obtained throughout this study show large variability in the content of the active compounds of the Rosa canina L. biotypes. The differences in the amount of vitamin C, in the total polyphenols and flavonoids content, were significant. The level of vitamin C content in the rosehip fruit varies according to biotype and altitude, depending on the geographic area of their origin, with higher values at high altitudes. Same degree of variability was observed both individually as well as between biotypes collected from the same geographical area or from various areas. The results obtained show that there are significant differences in the TPC values of the Rosa canina L. varieties collected on different locations throughout Transylvania. The total polyphenol content (TPC) and the antioxidant activity are both parameters of quality for rosehips, regarding its biological properties, and both assays should be applied for the quality control of rosehip fresh, frozen or dried. In this study, a high correlation was proved between the total polyphenols, the ascorbic acid content and the antioxidant scavenging capacity.

The antioxidant activity of the rose hip extract could be predicted by the total phenolics and ascorbic acid which suggests that these fr

Vitamin C extraction and determination

Sample preparation

For the ascorbic acid extraction, 0.5 grams of frozen rose hips, in three replicates each, was homogenised by grinding the sample one minute with 2.5 ml 3% H۳PO۴ and 8% acetic acid in aqueous solution, followed by 10 minute centrifugation at 3000 rpm and the supernatant was filtered through a 0.45 μm filter and kept at 4°C, following the procedure described by Hernandez et al. [۵۵] with some modifications.

uits acted as antioxidant by multiple components.


Thanks to the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine for all their support. This study was financially supported by Research Grant No 1215/31 (2012) of USAMV, Cluj-Napoca (Director Grant: Lecturer Ioana Roman Ph.D).

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